The New York City Police Department on Tuesday confirmed a DNA sample was successfully used to identified the mother of Baby Hope, marking the first big break in the more than two decades old case.
The child's body was found inside a cooler near the Henry Hudson Parkway in Washington Heights in July 1991.
She was estimated to be between 3 and 5 years old when she died, and weighed just 25 pounds.
Her arms were tied and she appeared to have been starved, beaten and sexually abused.
Police recently renewed their push to solve the case, posting flyers of the girl in Washington Heights this summer.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Baby Hope's body was exhumed in 2011 to get a DNA sample. He says officers kept on the case and now they've made a breakthrough.
"We have been able to identify the mother of Baby Hope as a result of, in my judgement, outstanding detective work. A DNA match was made with the mother and the mother has been cooperating," Kelly said.
Meantime, people who spoke with NY1 in the neighborhood say there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered.
"Maybe she might have worried, and you know where was her daughter, why she never came up and ask you know what happened to my daughter I mean these are questions that pop up in everybody's mind, What happened?" said one Washington Heights resident.
"It would be good to know it was something that came out when I was about 10 years old and it had me curious about what happened. Any clues in the case would be interesting to find out if it was somebody from around here," said another Washington Heights resident.
Police named the little girl Baby Hope, and paid for her funeral.